So my friend is pregnant! Well she was, she’s now Mummy to the adorable baby Luna.
My oldest friend was having a baby, not my oldest friend in age (although she is getting closer to 30 everyday!), I should say my longest friend.
I felt old enough when my younger sister had a baby (I now have 2 beautiful nieces), but my school friend was to be a Mum, I did not feel young!
Anyway nowadays having a baby means having a baby shower, like most things the Americans do we like to follow suit, but in a much calmer, more reserved English manner. Don’t get me wrong though I’m up for any excuse for food, drink, gifts and tea, (even though on this occasion there was a shortage of tea, but I digress, I’ll get back to that in a bit!) and this celebration was right up my street (and about as English as you can get), afternoon tea at The Oaklands Hotel Norwich.
I had never been to The Oaklands Hotel Norwich before, but had heard good things of the venue. I learned three thing that day, number one being don’t always trusts what you hear! Now I can only give you my opinion at that particular party on that particular day, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go try this place out for yourselves. Everywhere has an off day right?!
The second thing I learned/remembered is that having PA’s can be brilliant but stressful. Having to rely on another human to assist you in everything you do, or you are literally stuck.
I’ll start by explaining that the day before the baby shower I had a few staffing issues, my PA due to work that weekend had gone off sick. Chatting to a friend I mentioned that I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to join them all at the baby shower as I was having trouble finding a PA to cover (I’d tried everyone). Straight away she just offered to come and pick me up. Now picking me up isn’t as easy as picking up most of your friends, picking me up meant driving to my house, loading and clamping me and my chair into my wheelchair accessible vehicle, and driving my fairly large Renault Traffic, with me and my very wobbly head in the back! Janette isn’t known for her calmness, however she did a smashing job! Asking every three minutes if I was ‘still alive in the back there?’ I was so tempted to not answer!
The final thing I learned that day (well I always knew it really), I have some of the best friends out there! Not only did Janette drive over an hour out of her way to collect me, but she also detoured and picked up our other friend.
Now this lift could have been to assist our mutual friend Lucy, which it did. It could have been for some moral support in my scary vehicle, which it was. And Lucy could have come to help and support Janette, which she did. Whatever the reasons, I do know that people work best in tribes.
We arrive at The Oaklands Hotel carpark in one piece, my head still attached to my body. Phew! Winding through the very tight carpark we finally find the blue badge (disabled) spaces, only they are so small! They were also at a crazy angle that meant that my, not overly huge accessible vehicle would stick out of the space. Deciding against this we found a ‘normal’ parking space and managed to squish into it!
The Oakland Bar was easy enough to find and access through the wide doors and open plan restaurant.
A group of tables seating roughly 16 had been arranged for our party and there was plenty of space for me to easily navigate and park my wheels at the table. I could get my knees under the table perfectly as there was a central leg rather than 4 legs per table which can be restricting.
Once everyone had arrived and the excitement had begun we were served our food on tiered cake stands.
Although edible and nice enough I would say the afternoon tea was nothing special. It was a reasonable price for sandwiches, scones and cake, however I think I’d choose to pay a little extra in future for something a bit more special, and much better service (The Assembly House Norwich). There was a good variety of sandwiches but the meat was a little tough, the scones were ok but there was no butter served with the cheese ones, and the cakes just weren’t very special, more like tray bakes. I know I’m sounding a bit snobby here, but it just wasn’t something that made me think yum. As was the consensus of the people around me.
Myself and a friend were also very disappointed in the service. An afternoon tea generally means unlimited, or at least more than one cup of tea. Through the whole party I had just one cup of tea, and as you know this makes a very unhappy Gemma! We did ask for more tea on a couple of occasions but it was never brought to us. Lucy also asked for water twice, before Janette then going to the bar to ask for water, being told to ask your waitress at the table. We did finally get some water, just the once I might add.
Although the food, drink and service left a lot to be desired in my opinion this didn’t put a downer on the baby shower at all. It was lovely to get together with all the important ladies that would be in Luna’s life, her aunties, friends and grandparents, and to celebrate my friend becoming a grown up (well almost!).
I will leave you with some snaps from the day.
Photo Credits: Myself, Lucy and Hannah